PORTSMOUTH — If high school football is indeed to be played in Ohio starting at the end of this month, then the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association is doing what it can — and ALL it can — to ensure that.
Whether the state, and specifically Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, will be in agreement MAY be known on Tuesday (Aug. 4).
That’s because, as of this weekend, OHSFCA representatives are still scheduled to meet with Husted — via teleconference — Tuesday to review their 39-page proposal, which was submitted to the state two weeks ago.
It was received on July 20, and mentioned by Husted in response to a reporter’s question during DeWine’s “daily” coronavirus press briefing two days later.
That proposal covers, in great detail, the feasibility of playing this year.
“I have seen it. It’s right here on my iPad. So we are taking a look at their plan,” said Husted. “They’ve done some great work. It’s very helpful to informing our conversations.”
That conversation is apparently set for Tuesday, as formal football practice for the 2020 Ohio High School Athletic Association season started Saturday.
The OHSFCA’s opening statement in its proposal, in part, reads as follows:
“Governor DeWine often speaks about the toughness and resiliency of Ohioans. He boasts of our rich history and ability to adapt to whatever comes at us. We make adjustments to our circumstances and find a way to succeed. The Governor’s words are an inspiration to all Ohioans. We have seen private and public entities across our great state step up time after time to help one another adjust to the challenges of this pandemic. Emboldened by the Governor’s encouragement and thoughtful preparations, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has developed several recommendations for changes in protocols to responsibly restart Ohio high school football in the fall of 2020. The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has a mission to promote the sport of football by recommending the use of the safest, most medically sound and best practices in teaching skills to athletes. It is our belief that the mental health of the young men who play football can be negatively affected by eliminating football for 2020.”
Throughout the document, there are detailed procedure plans for practices — pre-thru-post — as well as a “COVID-19 response plan”.
Game-day protocols are also outlined —for both the visiting and home teams and during the games themselves.
Travel guidelines for visiting teams via school buses have been established, as well as for limited spectator seating in stadiums.
A recurring theme, of course, for all the safety measures is being able to practice social distancing as much as possible — especially when not actively engaged in the actual on-field competition.
To that end, the proposal suggests 80 yards of sideline space compared to 50 from previous years, and a halftime of only a dozen minutes instead of a traditional 20.
There is recommended 18 “minutes of full contact per day” compared to 30 in years past, and mandatory stoppages of play proposed are from four totaling 12 minutes to eight totaling six minutes.
All throughout the proposal are photographs, which illustrate the safety measures which would take place and be strictly enforced.
However, for fall “full contact” sports in the Buckeye State, what the OHSAA said — in an e-mailed memo to member schools — likely wasn’t what those particular players, coaches or even fans and observers wanted to hear.
That’s because, despite the OHSAA’s insistence — and repeatedly and publicly stated — that its 2020 fall sports seasons will in fact start practices on Saturday (Aug. 1), the association announced that ALL inter-school scrimmages of its “full contact” sports are indeed suspended until further notice.
Even more noteworthy, and alarming, is that the OHSAA doesn’t anticipate that suspension being lifted any time soon —with the very real possibility that no preseason scrimmages in either football or soccer will take place this year.
Since early July — and remains unchanged — the “low contact” or “non contact” sports of golf, girls tennis and volleyball are permitted to conduct inter-squad scrimmages and contests, and can follow “their normal OHSAA permissible dates and regulations”.
The OHSAA, following another ”daily” DeWine press briefing which the governor has held regularly since the coronavirus threat began in mid-March, e-mailed member school administrators with its third memo in a week on Tuesday night.
But since then, and as of early Friday afternoon, DeWine’s office hasn’t made any other statements —setting the wheels in motion for football and other fall sports practices to begin as scheduled on Saturday.
In fact, the OHSAA — in another e-mail to member schools on Friday — once again officially stated such.
“It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” said Dan Leffingwell, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and superintendent of the Noble Local Schools in Sarahsville. “And with that, we believe our member schools provide our student‐athletes with the safest possible environment to return to play and that our school programs are the best avenue to help students learn lifelong lessons and provide social, emotional and physical benefits that other programs cannot. Moving forward allows those students to continue to be engaged with their school coaches and teammates. Membership data also supports this decision. If we were to delay, our students will find opportunities to compete in sports through non‐school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education‐based. Should data on COVID‐19 change and/or the Governor’s Office makes changes to our plan, we have flexibility that would allow us to look at implementing other models for our seasons.”
DeWine will have, or is scheduled to have, another press briefing on Tuesday (Aug. 4) at 2 p.m.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved